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InsiderOnline Blog: August 2005

Funding a Movement II

If you haven't read James Piereson's piece on the rise of conservative foundations in the current Insider, make sure that you find time to do so.  Over on Armavirumque Piereson directs his focus to the recent news that liberals are preparing to fund a network of policy and advocacy groups.  The intent is to build a network to rival the conservatives'.  The project is the idea of Rob Stein, a Democratic strategist.

Very generally, modern conservative thought, as Piereson has written, is organized around two strains of ideas: first came the classical liberalism of Hayek and other free-market economists, and later came a broad conservatism that included foreign policy and cultural affairs.  Piereson wonders whether the liberals, who have received pledges of around $80 million for their project, can now rival conservatism.  Liberals, he writes, dwell on their failure, perhaps at the expense of looking forward.

New thinking may be required, but there is precious little evidence in this article that such thinking is in fact underway. Mr. Stein and his colleagues have outlined a thoughtful strategy, but have not said what they seek to accomplish. They have presented a road map but have not identified any destination. Nor have they identified any dead ends that they will now abandon.

If the project goes forward, a network of liberal think tanks will have $80 million dollars at their disposal to reinvigorate liberalism.  That's far more than the conservative philanthropists of the 1940s had, but liberal groups already spend 10 times more than conservative groups, Piereson writes.  The money, no doubt, has not been well-spent.

Posted on 08/18/05 02:02 PM by Larry Scholer

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